5 Tips to Spring Clean Your Digital Clutter
Spring is here! Hooray!
Have you thought about doing your spring cleaning yet?
How about your digital spring cleaning?
According to Wikipedia, spring cleaning refers to “the yearly act of cleaning a house from top to bottom which would take place in the first warm days of the year typically in spring, hence the name.”
Sadly, it isn’t enough to just clean houses and offices any more. These days we all have mountains of digital clutter that need spring cleaning too. Take a minute to think through all of the aspects of your digital life, professional and personal.
Doing a thorough cleaning of your digital clutter is essential—especially for those of us who work in public relations and marketing. From weeding out old contacts, getting rid of profiles you no longer use, to updating your user names and passwords, and deleting mountains of unread email, doing your digital spring cleaning, while important, can seem overwhelming.
It doesn’t have to. Follow these five tips to tackle your digital clutter.
1. Do an inventory and make a checklist.
List your email accounts, social network profiles, Twitter lists and address books. Check your contacts, and look at your passwords. Go through your documents, and images files. Do you have things organized so you can find them easily?
Check your software. Are the programs up to date? Are there programs on your computer you no longer use? Get rid of them. How about your phone? Do you have apps you don’t need? Get rid of them. If this all seems like a lot of work, Trend Micro has made it easy for you by providing a handy downloadable checklist to help you get started.
2. Use tools to simply and speed up the job.
Start at the top of your checklist and work through each category.
- Email: Use the free tool, Mailstrom to organize your email inbox, delete and unsubscribe from messages in bulk, and file the emails you want to hold on to.
- Passwords: Use Lastpass to generate and store secure passwords. Lastpass provides secure password management you can take with you whereever you go. You can install in your browsers, download it to your desktop and for $12 a year, add it to your moble devices.
- Documents: Use Dropbox to organize and save your documents and images in the cloud. You can easily share files from any of your devices, and upload images directly from your camera.
- Twitter: Use Manageflitter another free tool, to help you quickly determine the Twitter followers who are active, don’t use a profile image, are probably spammers or tweet in other languages. You can use Manageflitter to sort by influence, date of follow and many more criteria.
- Bookmarks: Use Evernote , another free tool (also offered in Premium and Business paid versions) to help you organize and store information. The Evernote webclipper grabs, saves and organizes bookmarks. Evernote’s functionality goes well beyond saving bookmarks, as this post from Lifehacker illustrates, and if you’re not already using it, you may find it solves more problems than you knew you had. Caution: stay out of the Evernote products market. There are many fun and wonderful Evernote-related products available.
3. Scrub the media list
Kevin Dugan, from Bad Pitch Blog, talks about the importance of maintaining an accurate media list so you don’t inadvertently send someone the same pitch more than once.
As he says, “file this under: …stuff so obvious, we didn’t think we’d have to post about it. But you need to de-dupe your lists. And while a quick visual scan can usually do the job, sometimes you have to put some thought into it.”
He’s right. Take the time to go through your media list and make sure your contacts are up to date and you have no duplications.
4. Remember the hardware
After you’ve gone through the work of spring cleaning your files, email, passwords and social networks, remember to clean off your hardware. Blow the mini-dust bunnies and cookie crumbs out of your keyboard. Wipe down the monitor on your computer. Cleaning your computer and phone helps keep them in top working order. Use this checklist from Computer Hope, to determine how to clean safely.
5. Review your goals and objectives
Finally, take some time to think through your goals and objectives. What are you trying to do with your digital presence? Are you working to build your personal brand, or simply doing your job?
Whatever your reasons are, look at how you show up online, where you show up online and how you utilize digital tools. Are you meeting, or exceeding, your personal goals for your digital activities? If not, this is a perfect time to fine tune your activities and kick things up a notch.
Spring comes but once a year, and thankfully so does spring cleaning. Even the digital version.
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